Vibrancy and Optimism at London Fashion Week SS23
The bi-annual London Fashion Week (LFW) event has taken a severe bashing of late, the pandemic has not been kind and while showcasing digitally has provided some respite the lavishness of season’s gone-by are now, a distant memory. Presenting collections digitally breaks down that FROW hierarchy, in essence giving us all a front-row seat. However, there is nothing like experiencing the ambience of a fashion show; the location, music, models, styling, and of course, the collection itself.
So, when it was announced that Her Majesty the Queen’s funeral was to take place during LFW SS23 there were rumours about cancelling the 5-day event. For designers, many of which are small up-and-coming labels, working for months in advance on their collections, this spelled disaster. After negotiations with the British Fashion Council (organisers of LFW) the decision was made to carry on, albeit in a low-key and respectful manner, so no after-parties or in-store events just business-as-usual catwalk shows and presentations.
Monday 19th, the day of Her Majesty’s funeral, became and no-show day and designers re-scheduled to fit in their events over the remaining LFW days. The current economic climate provides a tough environment for small design businesses and it can be overwhelming to plan ahead, however, it is exactly at times like this that resilience, tenacity and innovation can really take place. And this was evident at London Fashion Week this season.
On show was a riot of vibrant colour and optimism, just what we need for SS23, and for a vast majority these collections were created with the environment and sustainability in mind. Kicking off pre-schedule was the design duo Vin + Omi with their collection entitled: ‘Opinions’. This outspoken brand has worked with many leading designers and companies on sustainable textile creation, including the likes of rPET, mushroom leather and nettle fabrics. Their collection not only showcases these developing textiles but provides a platform to make political statements, and this season they included slogans such as: ‘No War’, ‘Kill Corporate Greed’, ‘Resist’, ‘Peace’ and ‘Think’.
Long-established LFW designer Paul Costelloe, meanwhile, paid his tribute to the Queen with a hand-drawn illustration and an operatic rendition of ‘Jerusalem’ before presenting a paintbox of primary yellows, oranges and reds. His silhouettes included loose fitting frills, layered cable knits, wide-leg trousers and babydoll dresses while oversized weekend bags completed the look.
Fashion-Enter’s Leah Martin picked out some of her show highlights:
Spanish sustainable brand, Sohuman hosted their LFW show at London College for Contemporary Arts. Each design was an explosion of colour and shape with every look presenting a new silhouette. Highlights included a mini dress laced with feathers, exposing horizontal boning along the body, as well as a purple iridescent, one-shoulder mini dress that partnered with the backdrop of London Bridge perfectly. Sohuman rounded off the show with a homage to the late Queen, with 3 models walking the runway holding an image of the Queen, their faces dripping in mascara tears.
Chinese Born designer Yonghao Xie presented his latest collection with a backdrop of low, ominous beats cascading around the room. Xie’s collection encapsulated the mix between colour and darkness with ombre fabrics contrasting next to black, as well as free-flowing, layered fabrics creating a likeness to the open ocean. Other pieces played with colour and dimension-based textiles. Trousers with wing-like calves flew around the floor, following a yellow turtle neck top paired with diamond print trousers. Xie showed a range of large colourful coats that focused on contrasting colour palettes and bulbous silhouettes.
FJU Talents is a Fashion Scout platform showcasing emerging designers from Taiwan. These designers were carefully selected by the FJU panel to show their designs during London Fashion Week this season.
Timmy Chou used a strict colour palette of white, navy, black and red, using sharp lines and edges in his garments to create dimension in his collection. The androgynous lines elevated simple garment silhouettes with layers of fabric and contrasting colour, resulting in a futuristic yet grounded feel.
Chao-Ruei Wu’s collection was a sea of movement with heavy, blue fabrics gracefully bouncing along the catwalk. Some select pieces were created with a metallic sheen to the textiles bringing a delightful mood of the night to the collection. All pieces in the show were dresses, however Wu layered them with high turtle necks and jumper-esque pieces to clearly differentiate each piece. Wu created a beautiful consistent collection, obviously created with culture and comfort in mind.
NOKI took the audience on a trip of art, fashion, queerness and exploration using unusual textiles and theatrics to stun. The 41-piece collection was full of exciting looks such as a Marge Simpson headpiece and a homage to Mickey Mouse. Outfits were created using upcycled materials, using tracksuit bottoms as off-the-shoulder tops, and of course, their signature shredded dresses layered over tie-dyed undergarments.
A highlight was when NOKI himself, walked along with a model on the catwalk, emptying a garment-filled rucksack into the audience, a man next to me caught a NOKI-branded shirt. This was one of the many moments the audience felt included in the show, no doubt as planned from NOKI as the front row was filled with his own LGBTQ community members. NOKI’s show felt like a celebration of community and love alongside the messages of rebellion, new wave punk and repurposed clothing – that left a lasting impression.
Rounding off the week, on-schedule designer Chet Lo debuted with his first solo collection that referenced club culture in clingy, 3D textured fabrics, again in eye-popping shades, cementing the penchant for bright colour and voluminous shape come SS23.
Words by JoJo Iles and Leah Martin
Images courtesy of Chris Daw and the British Fashion Council